Shares in publishing firm Future (FUTR) jumped 6.5% in morning trade to £20.25 after it upgraded its annual profit outlook following a ‘positive start to the year’.

In a trading update for the four-month period to 31 January, Future said it had ‘continued to benefit from high levels of online engagement’, notably during Black Friday and Christmas.

Its Media division grew revenue strongly driven by continued momentum in eCommerce and digital advertising, although its Events division, which represents a small portion of group revenue, ‘continued to be impacted by COVID-19’. The Magazine division performed ‘in-line with the trends seen from last year.’

The update comes after Future said one in three people in the UK and US read its content in 2020 thanks to a mix of underlying growth in audience engagement and the increased consumption of digital content during the pandemic.

As a result of what it called an ‘overall positive start to the year’, and ‘despite continued macro-economic uncertainties’, it expects full year profitability to be ‘materially ahead’ of current market expectations.

GOCO ACQUISITION COMPLETED

Future also revealed it had completed the acquisition of Go Compare comparison site owner GoCo, and said the acquisition would ‘further strengthen Future’s position as a leading global specialist media and intent platform by extending the group’s price comparison eCommerce capabilities beyond products and into services, and adding financial services as a new content vertical.’

An update on the integration of GoCo will be provided when the firm reports its interim results on 19 May.

Meanwhile, following its integration of the TI Media business, Future said it is on track to achieve the previously announced £20 million of synergies.

ANALYST VIEW

Shore Capital analyst Roddy Davidson called Future’s announcement a ‘strong update’ and said the broker will revisit its financial forecasts to reflect the positive performance from the update.

Davidson said he already expects Future to generate ‘very strong’ three-year aggregate earnings per share (EPS) and dividend per share growth of 38% and 150% respectively, accompanied by strong cash flow.

He added, ‘Importantly, our forecasts don’t yet reflect the positive impact of GoCo either (potentially a 13% FY22F EPS upgrade).’

Davidson said that based on Shore Capital’s current forecasts the group’s stock is trading on 2021 and 2022 price-to-earnings multiples of 20.9x and 19.5x respectively, which he regards as an ‘undemanding valuation even before the positive effect of pending upgrades’.

READ MORE ABOUT FUTURE HERE

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Issue Date: 19 Feb 2021